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October 03, 2005

VOCs Populi, or that New Car Smell

Love that new car smell? You may not get that smell from the next new car you buy, and for good reason. Japanese auto makers are planning to reduce the new car smell that comes from fresh glue, paint, plastics because it contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Short-term exposure to VOCs like benzene and formaldehyde can cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness, while long-term exposure can cause cancer. Studies (pdf) show that most people get their most concentrated dose of VOCs in cars of all ages when caught in traffic or refueling, and the new car smell just adds to the problem. Because the smell generally dissipates after 6 months, it probably won't give you cancer. But, still, kudos to Japan for tackling another air quality problem.

Posted by Jessica Branom-Zwick | Permalink


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